[In this guest Q&A, CTAM Research Committee chair Charlene Weisler interviews Beth Rockwood, SVP, Market Resources at Discovery Communications].

 
What would you say has been the most dramatic change in the industry in the past five years?
 
BR: We really hit a tipping point on fragmentation in video. Certainly having been at a broadcast network, now at a cable network, it’s very interesting that cable continues to gain as much audience as it has. As cable gains, so do other video options.
 
The biggest change for us is going to be the way that we look at our audiences. We have to dig down in the information a lot more to understand the different segments of our audiences, rather than looking at the averages. I feel that is a huge opportunity for us as programmers, and it will make finding connections to advertisers even more interesting and valuable.
 
So you have deep experience in agency, in broadcast and in cable. Out of the three, which would you say is undergoing the greatest change?
 
BR: The changes that are happening are affecting all three areas pretty dramatically. It would be tough to say which one is undergoing the most change. Perhaps it’s just because I’m on this side of the business at the moment, but I would say the content providers are dealing with an enormous amount of change. Consumers are shifting, technology is shifting – and the combination of the two is giving us many more opportunities and many more challenges in terms of measurement.
 
How are you managing this change through research?
 
BR: We are fond of saying that if we don’t stay ahead of it, we are going to get run over by it. We do everything we can to experiment with newer things that are coming along. Then we have experience, along with clients, to help us understand changes. It’s obviously tough to do but we try to stay involved with a lot of the newer things that are coming down the line.
 
Can you give me three predictions for the next five years?
 
BR: I’ll give it a shot. I think one of the things that I expect to see happening is the gradual move to behavioral targeting, which will be assisted by a look at cross-platform behavior. Also, as media brands and advertiser brands are clearly defined, we’ll be finding more direct linkages between the two, which is very exciting and will help us show advertising effectiveness more successfully.
 
My second prediction is that there will an awful lot that will not change much. We get excited about things changing and can get carried away by it. I still think back to the time 20 years ago when I first got excited about interactive television. I am still excited about it, but the timelines for change are often longer than we want to admit.
 
My last prediction is that there is going to be something that comes out of left field that none of us have predicted. And it’s really going to be exciting and simple for the consumer – and make a difference. 

This Q&A is an excerpt from an in-depth, five-part video interview, in which Beth discusses a range of subjects, including set-top box data, her work with segmentation and data fusion, how she manages the vast changes occurring in the marketplace, and her innovations at Discovery.

(Interview conducted by Charlene Weisler, past chair and member of the CTAM Research Committee and research veteran. She can be reached at WeislerMedia@yahoo.com. Charlene’s many insightful video interviews with industry researchers are available for viewing here).

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